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this letter cently landed on
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my desk. i'm a 35-year-old female who purchased an inn. i drive an old car. i work seven days a week. i never get away. well, we decided this connecticut inn is in need of a "your business" makeover. that's coming up next on "your business." hi, there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to
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"your business." this show's dedicated to giving you tips and advice to help your small business grow. recently we received a letter from a woman entrepreneur in trouble. she's the sole owner of a small bed and breakfast inn in connecticut. we called her up and after talking with her we knew our team of experts led by mike might be able to bail her out. that's how we decided to give this innkeeper a "your business" makeover. the "your business" makeover team is on the road again. they're just passing through historic mystic connecticut. >> we must be getting close. we're passing foxwood resorts, another huge tourist destination. it looks like we've arrive. let's get to work. let's help this business. you must be erica. >> i am. >> i'm mike, the author of "the pumpkin plan."
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nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you. >> i heard you called msnbc and need some help. >> i do. >> let's take a tour of the place and talk while we walk. >> she's owner of abbey's lanyard inn. >> guests sit around here and have a nice campfire. >> we recently got her letter. she's so outdated on chores that she has no time to build her business. >> what building your business? >> sometimes i feel like a hamster in the cage, running, not getting anywhere, spinning the wheel, just stuck. >> from where she sits she may seem like she's stuck. that's now how we see it. what we see is a makeover. >> you're doing gardening,
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interior decorating, accounting. >> chef. >> yep, reservations, feeling all the phone calls. >> as she went through the long list of problems, the problem with how she runs her business became increasingly clear. >> many businesses that struggle in growing to the next level are stuck like this. the owner, that's you, what i want to do is transfer this into a tradition at organizational chart because until we start pushing you up the org chart, you're never going to master the business. you're going to be running into minutia. >> the owner also has to understand the big picture add that's where mike questions revealed important gaps that and so what's your break even point. how many people do you need? >> i haven't done a specific accounting but my estimate is i need to sell out weekends
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year-round to cover my expenses. >> the same often goes for keeping up with current technology. >> so you take reservation phone calls? it's not done on the web? >> we don't have online booking. >> you're taking the reservations yourself? >> yep, all of them. >> looking at her website we realized not only was the style out of date, the picture ts wer old and some of the rooms were in need of a makeover. that's when we called in the "your business" s.w.a.t. team. first up, andrew gianelli. he's an excellent decorator from bucks, pennsylvania. he specializes in inns and hotels. we asked him to take a look at her website and pick the one room most in need. >> hey, i want you to meet andrew. >> nice to meet you. >> this is called chateau eve. to be honest, it doesn't look like chateau materiel and erica must have agreed because before
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we even arrived she started making her own priors. >> a lot of the colors are heavy. not outdated but heavy. it's personal. we can't take personality. this is not your home anymore. it's your business. >> yeah. i didn't like the thing about the dark colors because i get huge great reviews on the color scheme and decor. yeah, i wasn't feeling it about the -- >> it's not a putdown. it's a personal thick for you. like an artist, you need to step away from where you live, where you work and come out and look at it with a fresh eye. >> but i don't want to look like every single b and b. >> we want to get out of here. he has a lot to do. >> honestly, first impression. >> oh, my god. >> really? >> yes. the website's bad, the picture is bad and this is just proof in the pudding. >> what's your thoughts of erica
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and how she's listening? >> erica is stub borne. >> i'm slightly skeptical about what he's going to produce but willing to give him a shot on what he's able to do. >> scale of 1 to 10, what's the room? >> 0. >> we gave andrew a modest budget and 24 hours to show his stuff. when he's done, we'll see if erica can be con vibsed. meanwhile mike wasted no time introducing erica to our next member of the team. dawn specializes in quickbooks. >> give us a sense of your accounting? >> not really. >> how do you track stuff? >> i don't. i have money coming in, i pay my bills and i see what's in my checking account and that eebs it. >> that blows my mind. how do you pay your taxes. >> i pay my sales tax but for
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2011 i guessed. i guesstimated. >> you guessed. >> i kind of guesstimated and sent in an amount. >> i hope you guessed high because that could be trouble if it was low. >> i guess i guessed higher. >> that's a technical foul. >> shall we look at the books? >> uh-oh. >> literally, we want to see it. >> so this is the office? >> yes. this is where it all happens. >> i'm glad to see you have accounting records. >> those aren't mine. those are the previous business owner. these are mine. >> so it looks leak you followed their system. they headed back upstairs were dawn got erica started on a quick books account. go ahead and finish. now we've created the bank account. >> be brutally honest with me. erica's taking care of upstairs. what's your first impression? >> hot mess. first interpretation of what i've seen here. again, not abnormal but frightening?
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can as by operate like this? >> well, it can, but not for very long. they won't be in business for very long. >> you feel confident it can be fixed? >> it can always be fixed. >> while dawn and erica finished up with quickbooks and andrew was busy on the shay toe we asked her son to to take pictures. >> he's a photographer for bed & breakfast and inns in the nation. he's donate his time to help us out here. tell us what you've about got going on. >> i'm setting up the lights in here just, you know, interior photography, a lot it it has to do with creating your own light. >> erica was so eager she asked him to give her a preview. >> that's the patio.
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wow, that certainly looks incredible. >> so far she loves christian's photos. she has a new accounting system she didn't know she needed and a room makeover that she's not quite sure she even wants but she is still so busy working in her business doing all these daily chores and hasn't yet figured out a way to get on top of it to guide her business. so when we come back, some more surprises and a plan. if you're looking to land a big breakthrough or even meeting with investors, a well crafted pitch is one of the most important things a small business owner should have, yet so many people get it completely wrong. our guest is here to share some tips on how to build an elevator pitch that will increase your chances for success. terry is a public speaking, sales, training and consulting firm and also author of the new book "small message, bill
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impact:how to put the power of the elevator speech to work to you." good to see you. >> good to see you. >> number one you have to decide your intention. >> right. the first one is what do i want to have happen as a result of the message. we're all selling something, a product, service, philosophy, idea, most of all, yourself. what do you want to have happen as a result of the message? what's the next outcome. do you want the outcome, succession time. what do you want to have happen and you design your message around that intention. >> what's important about that, too, you're going to have a different mention when you're talking to a potential partner or customer. >> small messages with big impact. what it does is keeps your nimble because one response for one listenerer could be very different from the response of another listener so you want
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that flexibility. >> build your case. what do you need to do? >> you have to start with need. why do they need you. why do thaw need your company. why do they need you now. a lot of people will say, well, you should use us because we have a great customer service and i would say that's nice but really so what? what is it about your customer service that separates you from your service? how can you save them time? how can you save them money? how can you save them mental sanity or how can you make something fun? those are all need-know wassed issues. >> get scrappy, what do you mean like that? >> we have to get a little bit more creative in order to capture their attention. what unique way can you open a conversation so people will say, oh, that was clever and from that clever opening you can move into your case.
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>> shuddenly you're memorable a well. >> this is true. if somebody writes something for you, it's never going to sound authentic. >> if grow to a comedy show, you see a great comedian. you go home and tell it and it never lands the same way because it's personal. you have to engage and give yourself permission to be yourself just like you're having a conversation like we are. >> the close, what kind of close do you use. >> there's that famous line, a-b-c, always be closing. we have to ask somebody to do something as a result of the message. so what do you want them to do? do you want them to set up the next appointment time, close the deal, begin an in trow dugs. what do you want to have happen. when you ask them to do something the higher the probability you'll get.
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>> terri, thank you so much. we do the elevator pitch on this show. >> love it absolutely. when we come back, a tip from our new book, "it's your business, on why you should never say no." our panel talks on when to start and end your business. and we travel back to make sure customers have no reservations about staying at erica's bed & breakfast. we've all had those moments. when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect,
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is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership. a few years ago i was here at pilates on fifth and a woman walked in and said to the receptionist who said have you ever tried pilates or cardiolates? i thought that was interesting. she didn't say we don't have yoga and the woman ended up signing up for a cardiolates program. later that afternoon i asked them. they said, oh, yeah, that is completely by design. we tell our employees never say no because if you can get around saying no you can recruit a potential client. so it's "your business" tip number 109, never say no to a
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potential customer skbloo as we saw earlier, ericka hall may be getting more help than she's expected. watch now as the "your business" team of experts gives her the tools she needs to take control of her business. it's morning at abbey's lantern hill inn. and erica is showing mike her delicious secret to her french toast. >> so it takes about two minutes? >> yep. it's all in the ingredients, using really high quality ingredients. french baguettes is the secret. i made this bottle of vanilla myself. vanilla beans, chop them up and put them in vodka. >> that is good. >> erica's in luck today because we called trip's
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brian and when he looked at her site, he had lots of suggestions. one of ericka's big concerns was filling her weekday vacancies. >> and trying to bring them in in the middle of the week. is it something that most properties like this sort of struggle with? >> brian recommended that erica put an ad on his site giving people a special offer like a discount if they stay more than two nights instead of just the weekend. >> the kind of offers that extend the weekend, you know, give them a reason to stay a little longer and fill the rooms. >> brian gave erica a year's worth of extra services designed to increase her traf snook yeah, definitely great suggestions and not too difficult to implement. >> i have a sneaky suspicion you have one last surprise? >> we do. one of the last experiences we had at a b & b, it's the warm bread. i think we have a little surprise for you out in the car. >> wow. looks awesome.
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delongi bread maker, nice. >> you can make fresh bread. >> then the skype call came in. it was jeff bryce from reservation neck us in salem, utah. his company make once of the top systems for online booking. >> erica, i want to introduce you to jeff bryce of resnexus. he does reservations for inns just like this. >> erica, good to meet you. >> good to meet you, jeff. >> we'll match up your reservation page to our website and showcase your experience and allow get guests to book right on line. >> it sounds great. >> what's your thoughts? fears, changing over? >> i'm a little nervous sfloo what are the timelines? >> i can see you cutting that time in half initially and then
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over time the majority of that time spent will be spent in other areas. >> that sounds like a vacation maybe. >> yeah, it sure does. >> online booking has pretty much become the industry's standard and care says without it she's sure she's lost out on a lot of reservations. >> the footsteps i wanted to hear. >> denise, owner of the s-3 agency in new jersey offered to redo ericka's website incorporating all these new elements. >> this really has more of a modern flair to it because it shows modern rustic. you see that? it's got that "book now." people want the easy quick "book now" callout. >> my right off the bat impression is i hike this one a
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little more. >> with a new web design chosen and an online reser vision system in place, filling the rooms should take less effort but what about the cottage makeover, what would ericka think? >> let's get her in position. okay, you ready? three, two, one. >> wow. wow. really cool. yeah, definitely. it's very cool. very different. is it the same bed? >> yes. new headboard. >> so cool. that is neat. wow. you guys made that. >> yeah. >> that's amazing. oh, my gosh, you took the mirror and painted it. it looks so much better. >> scale of 1 to 10. >> you put me on compared to where we came from, i would give it a nine for sure. >> okay. and the customers will give it
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a -- >> i think you've got a good nine or ten. you've got more income coming from it now. i think there's a lot of positive things that we've created for you like putting new sheets on a bed. >> they were happy with it, i mean, they seemed fairly happy before so now i think they'll be blown away. >> it's looking like erika may have finally found a way to get the details and, at last, get on top of her business. >> all right. so it's been a whirlwind of two days. what's your thoughts? >> i mean, i'm just flabbergasted by all of -- how far i've gone forward with the business through you guys in two days. it's been pretty amazing. new website, new photos, a new online booking system. >> so when everyone is running around like a wild person, yourself included, i was drawing this chart fracking what your roles are. and i documented every role you play. all these 25 positions, are played by you. before, you spent about zero hours a day actually running the
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entire business and overseeing it. you were in the my knew shall. now you're about four hours a day freed up to run and control the business. >> absolutely. >> it was an absolute pleasure hanging out and working with you. >> you, too, mike. thank you very much. >> was this makeover successful? well, let's see if there's room at the inn for this week's board of directors. peter sherman is the cofounder of the b&b people where he's been a in-consultant and broker since 1993. and stella is the founder of a company that creates team-building experiences and vanessa o'connell is the small business editor at the "wall street journal." great to see all of you. >> peter thanks so much for your help with this makeover. >> my pleasure. >> we really appreciate it. you we want to visit erika. what did you think? >> i was really surprised to see that property look as nice as it did. because from her online presence, i had a very different impression. >> and suspect that amaze
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something and how important is that online presence? that's what gets people there. >> it's critical. you have three seconds to get people's attention when they come to your website and if you haven't gotten them, they'll go hit the back button and go to the next. >> and a lot of business owners are intimidated by websites and they don't know how to tackle it. and look what a huge difference that could make for her, especially in terms of online reservations and for retailers, we've seen that they can use the web, okay cut out the middleman and sell direct to consumers so the web can really transform all kinds of businesses now. >> what do you think it is? what's holding people back from doing something that's really hard? they're doing it manually, signing up for a service that makes it's easy? >> i think it's a lack of knowledge of where to go. you have to really shop those services. there are services that can help if you're a retailer or a b & b or a winemaker. it can be intimidating to get to the bottom of the prices of the
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services. it can be hard to assess what the final price will be. >> so, the thing that mike responded to that dawn, who was so amazing in that piece responded to, and all of us did is the finances. >> oh, my god! indeed. that was very scarey. i think what happens is, you know, it's really important to pay attention to what you do so well. she was glowing when it came to her french toast. she loves that part. so if you're not good at something, don't just ignore it and don't do anything, find someone who can help you. and, again, that took a few hours of setup. you can go to sites like task rabbit, e-lance and hire people for a few hours to come and do what you guys just did for this woman. >> and i imagine you see this a lot with the inns that you work with. they sort of forget about the finances? >> you go in and it's really important for inn keepers like any business person, to know what money is coming in and what's generating that income and what are they spending their
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money on? if they don't know where they're spending their money they have no idea whether they're profitable at all and certainly, they don't know how ta make their business more efficient so they can be more profitable. whether they have three rooms or 30 rooms or they're running a retail business you got to know what your cost of doing business is or you're going to end up spending more than you should. >> and, again, the key to this is it took two days. >> i thank all you guys for your help with this. it was a fun makeover and i'm happy that things are working out and you loved it. good story. >> very good story. >> thanks, guys. it's time to answer some of your business questions. vanessa and stella are with us once again. the first one is about getting out of your business. >> here i am, 16 years into it. i'm ready to sell my business. need a place to go in order to find out how to make it happen. >> where do you start? a lot of people get this that situation. they're really good at running their business but don't know how to sell it. >> first, congrats for 16 years
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in and finally being ready to sell. i would go to biz by you can research you're asking price and post your business for sale. you can even find a brocker to help you make the sale. the first thing you want to do before you post, though, is figure out your seller's -- you want to figure out how much earnings your company makes and go three years back into your records and have all your numbers ready. once you understand your true earnings then you want to understand what's the multiple that you can sell your business at. so, for example, technology companies can sell at a multiple, sometimes, up to ten times what their business is earning or as a manufacturing company, they might sell at a multiple of four times. so you really want to understand and not undersell your business. >> how likely is it for anyone out there who has a business that's doing okay. not gangbusters or not some fast technology growing -- fast-growing technology company,
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is it likely they can sell their business? >> we looked at this at the "wall street journal" a couple of weeks ago and i don't mean to be a huge downer but it's unfortunate that a lot of business owners are struggling to sell their businesses and they're feeling stuck. evaluations for businesses are down and sales prices are down still. so we have found that a lot of business owners are having to postpone retirement five years or longer. some of them are having to agree to these earn-out deals where they stick around, even though they may be feeling ready to wash their hands and move on to something new, where they have to stick around and the business has to meet certain performance targetings for them to get payments. so this is a very common problem eveshl specially for baby boomer business owners who maybe started their businesses at a time when things were going well and there was this american dream they were after and now hire we are, out of a recession and the economy is still very stagnant. >> okay. the next question. when to ask for funding. >> is it a good idea for us to
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borrow money from the bank before the savings are depleted? or should we continue to burn through those until there's zero left? >> i think you never want to hit zero. yes. to answer this question, i guess the first thing that comes to mind is -- you really have to think about the likelihood of failure and failure two years out, failure three and four years out. you have to think about who's going to get hurt the most in this? what's very hard for people who start businesses that don't get outside investors into their businesses, is that it's their savings. they feel the failure more than if they had a venture capital backer, for instance. if you start borrowing money from your friends and family you may also -- they may suffer when your business fails. >> you should always be talking to people about getting money even if you don't need it and you don't want to be down to the wire and then think, who's going to give me money? >> i say that business is like
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dating. you never want to be desperate. if you have the chance now, while you're still ahead, to get some padding room in there, you're not only creating a cushion for yourself, but you're also developing a relationship with your lender, which is really big. when it comes time for you to really need some cash, you already have a credit history established. >> stella and vanessa, thank you guys so much for all your help. really appreciate it. >> to learn more about today's show click on the website, open business. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. also you can follow us on twitter it's @msnbc your biz. next week, meet andrew rosenwalk who's family has been building and maintaining many of new york city's iconic water towers for nearly 150 years. what does it take for one family to grow
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